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Dudu Fisher is a busy man. Prior to my calling him at his Manhattan home, the hazan and singer-star of Broadway musicals had just returned from the gym. As usual, he has fingers in several artistic endeavors at once.
On October 1 Fisher will appear in a Jerusalem concert culled from a repertoire of songs based on the theme of our capital city. The concert will take place, fittingly, at the Jerusalem Theater, and is the forerunner of a show that is due to run on off-Broadway in the spring. Besides the obvious entertainment value of Jerusalem, Fisher has something of an ulterior motive for offering his. "My son is one of the founders of Or, a group that is dedicated to settling the Negev and Galilee," Fisher explains. "The show in Jerusalem will help to raise funds for the movement."
Despite spending much of his time in New York, Fisher evidently maintains a keen interest in matters back here.
Fisher recently released an album entitled Shabbat Shalom - a Treasury of Shabbat Songs which contains liturgical and other material based on Ashkenazi, Spanish and Yemenite tunes with some highly contemporary arrangements. It is clearly a package that aims to please, and possibly appeal more to Diaspora Jews than Israelis. Fisher has no problems with the across-the-board approach. "There are a lot of secular Israeli Jews who enjoy singing zemirot," he says. "This CD is not specifically for observant Jews, and I was happy to have more modern arrangements for the songs. The arranger also works with [rapper] Subliminal. I think the CD is for audiences both in Israel and abroad."
In addition to his other recording schedules, shows and occasional cantorial duties, he also has a 3-CD compilation of many of the Yiddish songs he has performed and recorded to date.
By now, the dizzying picture of Fisher's professional career should be evident. When Jerusalem hits off-Broadway, initially at least, it promises to be a convenient arrangement for Fisher. "I've had problems having Friday and Saturday evenings off throughout my whole career," he says. "I've been struggling with this since Les Miserables in 1995 and Phantom of the Opera in London. I missed out on Fiddler on the Roof because of the weekend problem."
Fisher will encounter no such logistical issues in Jerusalem. "I'd had enough of Broadway. Then my manager suggested I do something on Jerusalem, especially with the 40th anniversary of the unification. When I began writing songs for the show I thought it would be a sort of wandering show I'd take around the world. I began to write and collect songs in five languages - French, Ladino, Yiddish, Hebrew and English."
Fisher applied the eclectic approach to Jerusalem too. Some of the music will be a bit complex and will encompass everything from hazanut to reggae and lots in between.
"I hope the variety won't put people off. I think it will have a universal appeal."
After its concert format debut here, Jerusalem will eventually hit the off-Broadway stage in the spring, in a musical format. "The venue [the modestly sized Actors' Temple] is perfect," Fisher explains. "On Shabbat it acts as a synagogue. So I won't have any problems taking weekends off."
Dudu Fisher will appear in Jerusalem at the Jerusalem Theater on October 1 at 8 p.m. For ticket information call: (08) 629-9012